Gunnison Gorge

National Conservation Area - Colorado

Just north of Montrose in west-central Colorado lies the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA), a diverse landscape ranging from adobe badlands to rugged pinyon and juniper-covered slopes. At the heart of the NCA, the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area encompasses a spectacular black granite and red sandstone double canyon formed by the Gunnison River.



Map of the Summer Designated Bike Route System in White River National Forest (NF) in Colorado. Published by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).,White River - Summer Bike Routes

Map of the Summer Designated Bike Route System in White River National Forest (NF) in Colorado. Published by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).,


Brochure and Map of Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA) and Wilderness in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).Gunnison Gorge - Brochure and Map

Brochure and Map of Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA) and Wilderness in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Visitor Guide to Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA) and Wilderness in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM9.Gunnison Gorge - Visitor Guide

Visitor Guide to Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA) and Wilderness in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM9.

Colorado Recreation - Backyard to Backcountry. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).BLM Colorado - Colorado Recreation

Colorado Recreation - Backyard to Backcountry. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Camping on Public Lands in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).BLM Colorado - Camping on Public Lands

Camping on Public Lands in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Gunnison Gorge NCA Just north of Montrose in west-central Colorado lies the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA), a diverse landscape ranging from adobe badlands to rugged pinyon and juniper-covered slopes. At the heart of the NCA, the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area encompasses a spectacular black granite and red sandstone double canyon formed by the Gunnison River.
Boating – Launch Sites Chukar Trail and Boat Launch are accessible via the Chukar Trailhead. The trail can be accessed via a primitive, rough road, often requiring fourwheel drive that ends at the wilderness boundary. From there it’s a mile-long hike down Chukar Trail to the river. All gear, including boats, must be carried down the trail to the river. No carts or wheeled devices are allowed in the wilderness. A commercial horse packing service is available seasonally. Gunnison Forks Day-Use Recreation Site offers public launching and take-out on BLM land. There is an adjacent private river access site available for a fee at the Gunnison River Pleasure Park. Cottonwood Grove Campground is located on river-left 1.5 miles downstream from the Gunnison Forks. It can be accessed from the river or by vehicle via the South River Road. The campground has six sites with picnic tables, a toilet and boat ramp. The campground features a universally accessible campsite with an adjacent accessible fishing pier. Orchard Boat Launch is the last public boater take-out on the Gunnison River before Confluence Park in Delta. Boaters need to be aware of private lands and potential river hazards before floating the river downstream of the NCA. Gorge rapids vary from Class I (moving water with no obstructions) to Class IV (long, difficult rapids with constricted passages). Rapid difficulty changes dramatically with varying river flow. If in doubt, SCOUT! Running the Gorge TRAILS AND STAGING AREAS ALLOWED USES DESCRIPTION MILES Flat Top-Peach Valley OHV Recreation Area Staging Area Off-route cross-country riding permitted in two designated “open play” areas. Peach Valley staging area offers a beginner loop and training area. 100+ miles of trails covering 9,800 acres. Steep climbs and rocky terrain. Single track and jeep road sections extend along the western wilderness rim from the national park boundary north to Ute Trailhead. 13 miles, one-way. Red RocksNighthorse Trail OQI JKO I Wave-Eagle Jeep/OHV Route NQJ KOI Primitive four-wheel drive jeep road. Loop includes moderate hills with very rocky terrain. Access off Peach Valley Road. Easier if traveled counterclockwise from Wave Road. 6.5-mile loop. Sidewinder Trail JKO I Technical, multiple-use, single track trail runs north and south along NCA’s west side. Numerous access points including Smith Mountain Recreation Area, Eagle Valley Trailhead, Wave-Eagle Loop, Bobcat, Duncan and Ute Roads. Entire trail is 20 miles in length. Shorter or longer rides/hikes are available by combining with other roads or trails. Eagle Valley Trail JKO I JKO I Single track trail begins off Chukar Road and connects to Sidewinder, Wave and Sunset Rocks Trails.   1.25 mile, one-way. Single track trail connects to other single track routes. Access off Chukar Road. 3 miles, one-way. Combine with Eagle Valley Trail and Chukar Road for 6 mile loop. West River Trail (Day Use Area) JK Provides great opportunities for walk-wade fishing. Access from South River Road. No camping or sleeping in vehicles at trailhead. 2.5 miles, one-way. Cool Rock Canyon Trail J Winds through colorful sandstone canyon with interesting rock formations and fun places to explore. Great family hike. Located off South River Road. Up to 3 miles, one-way. Fun hike up and back through scenic sandstone canyon. Good family hike. Up to 2 miles, one-way. Panoramic views of Gunnison Gorge Wilderness and North Fork. Connects to Ute Trailhead and makes a loop with South River Road. 14-mile loop (Smith Mtn Rd/wilderness rim/South River Rd). RIVER MILES RAPID CLASS DESCRIPTION 1-6 Chukar Rapid III Single drop at the put-in. Most run center at higher water and right slot at lower flows. Run One Miler III Run left of the large center hole or rock depending on flows. Improvise Rapid (mile 1.5) III Recognized by a small vertical cliff on right and a prominent rock slide on left. Scout left. Upper and Lower Pucker II+ Narrow slots at low flows. Large holes at high flows (>2000 ft). Buttermilk Rapid III Run at mile 4 straight down the tongue and watch out for the cliff on left. Ute Park (mile 4) I/II The canyon opens up and the river gets shallower. Watch for rocks in low-flow periods. Ute Park provides the most campsites in the Gorge and good fishing access. Suncliff Trail Red Canyon Rapid III The canyon narrows again at a rocky rapid requiring technical boating skills. Scout right. Smith Mountain Jeep Loop Boulder Garden III This used to be a Class IV rapid. Flooding in August 2010 altered the hydraulics, making it less difficult. Recommend scouting (left), as it is unknown what effects high flows may have on the rapid. J NJK OIQ Smith Mountain Recreation Area Staging/trailhead area for all uses Provides access to Smith Mountain jeep roads, South River Road, Sidewinder and other trails. Trailer parking for equestrians and motorized users. Located on H-75 Road at NCA north ent
GU NNISO N GOR GE N ATIONA L CONS ERVATI ON AREA AUSTIN HOTCHKISS TO DELTA TO CRAWFORD elcome to the Where is the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and Wilderness? Denver Ute Road Grand Junction Colorado Springs Montrose Duncan Road GUNNISON GORGE WILDERNESS AREA Bobcat Road OLATHE The Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA) is located about seven miles northeast of Montrose in westcentral Colorado, just downstream from the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It encompasses approximately 57,725 acres of public lands in Montrose and Delta counties. The Gunnison Gorge Wilderness is located in the heart of the NCA within the extremely scenic double canyon system of the Gunnison River. It encompasses approximately 17,700 acres of public lands, including 14 miles of the Gunnison River, extending from the northwestern boundary of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park north to a point approximately 2 miles downstream from the confluence of the Smith Fork and the main stem of the Gunnison River. What is a National Conservation Area? Chukar Road BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK NCA is the designation given by the U.S. Congress to special lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). There are 14 NCAs in the Nation, and each is managed in accordance with the special provisions provided by the legislation that designated the area. Specifically, Congress designates an NCA to permanently protect and conserve identified resource values of national interest. How do I access the Gunnison Gorge NCA? National Conservation Area Wilderness Area National Park Area Campsite Picnic Area Handicap Accessible Restrooms Parking N MONTROSE BUREAU OF L AND MANAGEMENT • MONT ROSE, COLORADO The Gunnison Gorge NCA is located approximately 50 miles south of Grand Junction. Falcon Road, east off U.S. Highway 50, about 10 miles north of Montrose and just south of Olathe, provides access to the NCA from the southwest. Follow this paved road to its end where it turns north onto the unpaved Peach Valley Road. The Peach Valley, Ute, Duncan, Bobcat, Chukar, and all other NCA access roads on both the east and west side of the Gunnison River Canyon are rough, four wheel drive roads that are impassable when wet. High clearance, 4WD vehicles are recommended. Delta County Road 2200, located approximately 10 miles east of Delta on Colorado Highway 92 near Austin, provides access to the NCA from the north. Follow the signs south to Peach Valley Road. The northern end of the NCA can also be accessed from the BLM Gunnison Forks Day Use Area located approximately 13 miles east of Delta. Look for the Gunnison Forks/Pleasure Park sign and paved County Road 28.10 south of Colorado Highway 92. How do I access the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area? The four main trails into the Gunnison Gorge are accessed via the Chukar, Bobcat, Duncan, and Ute access roads located off the main Peach Valley Road on the western side of the NCA. See Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area map and “Wilderness Access Roads and Trails” section on reverse side for more information on these trails. The Chukar Road and Trail provide the main access for boaters. Boaters must either carry their gear down the one-mile Chukar Trail to the put-in or arrange for a pack-in by the BLM permitted horsepacker. Contact Larry Franks (970) 323-0115 to book a pack-in. What services are provided in the NCA? Restrooms and picnic areas are provided at the Chukar, Duncan, and Ute trailheads. There is no charge for the use of these trailhead facilities or camping in the non-wilderness portions of the NCA. Camping in the Wilderness is restricted to designated primitive campsites (no facilities). Backcountry toilets are at the bottom of the Chukar, Duncan, and Ute trails. User fees are charged in the Wilderness area. See trail head information on how to pay fees, register, and reserve a Wilderness campsite. The Gunnison Forks Day Use Site at the northern end of the NCA provides easy walk-in river access, a natural surface (river rock) boat ramp, picnic tables with shelters, restroom, and a sanitation dump station. Camping is not allowed at the site, however, camping is provided at the private Gunnison River Pleasure Park located adjacent to the BLM area. The Pleasure Park also provides parking, boat ramp, restrooms, showers, and eating facilities in addition to river shuttles, raft rental, and other commercial services. Call the Park (970) 872-2525 to book a river shuttle or for more information. G UNN ISON G ORG E WIL DE RNES S A REA WILDERNESS REGULATIONS These regulations apply to all users in the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness and River Canyon from the downstream boundary of the Black Canyon National Park (just upstream of the Chukar boater put-in) to the North Fork Confluence. Visitors traveling into the Park from the Chukar are required to pay BLM user fees. Boaters traveling downstream from the Park are not required to pay BLM user fees bu
U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management Colorado Recreation Backyard to Backcountry Map Guide & Guide BLM Colorado Recreation Backyard to Backcountry M ore than a quarter of public lands in Colorado are managed specifically for recreation and tourism. Recreation on BLM lands is all about the visitor’s freedom to choose where to go and what to do. Unlike many other recreation destinations, the BLM’s public lands are still quite rustic. There are no entrance stations and comparatively few developed recreation areas. Diversity is the name of the game in Colorado, from our lands, to our recreation opportunities, to our adjoining communities. Dozens of nearby communities provide permitted guiding and outfitting services, gear and equipment sales, and lodging. BLM Colorado is always seeking recreation partnerships to enhance visitors’ experiences and provide quality recreation opportunities. Public lands are not set aside solely for recreation; they offer energy potential and—in an increasingly urban world—vast open spaces. In many places, the flavor of the Old West is still plainly visible—in historic mining structures as well as contemporary ranching activities. syMBOLs Legend A J K V C A N T E G S Camping Hiking Horse Trail Historic Site Rock Climbing Mt. Biking 4WD Wildlife Viewing Fishing Back Country Byway Kayaking Cover Photo: Kevin Krill - Crested Butte Photography, Penitente Canyon Top: Photo ©Jerry Sintz, Animas Forks Bottom: BLM Photo by Matt McGrath, McInnis Canyons NCA 1 | O T D Q E P Q I H B W Dirt Bike Trail Rafting Hunting ATV Trail Scenic Geology Fossil Site Scenic Area Winter Rec Area Snowshoeing Canoeing Off-Highway Vehicle Know Before you go BLM Colorado Offices 9 1 Craig 8 3 Kremmling Meeker 10 2 DENVER Silt 6 4 5 7 6 Grand Junction 7 8 Gunnison Montrose 3 5 Cañon City 1 2 4 9 10 Monte Vista Durango ROyAL gORge FIeLd OFFICe sAn LUIs VALLey FIeLd OFFICe gUnnIsOn FIeLd OFFICe TRes RIOs FIeLd OFFICe UnCOMPAHgRe FIeLd OFFICe gRAnd JUnCTIOn FIeLd OFFICe COLORAdO RIVeR VALLey FIeLd OFFICe KReMMLIng FIeLd OFFICe LITTLe snAKe FIeLd OFFICe WHITe RIVeR FIeLd OFFICe For additional information, contact the local BLM field office for the area you are planning to visit, or go to recreation-activities/colorado. B LM Colorado wants you to have the best experience possible on your public lands. When planning your trip, take all necessary safety precautions and be aware of regulations. Take into consideration the weather conditions, necessary equipment and wildlife inhabiting the area. CAMPIng BLM-managed public lands provide a variety of options for overnight trips: • developed campgrounds may include a variety of facilities, such as restrooms, potable water, fire rings, picnic areas, garbage cans, tent pads, etc. • dispersed (undeveloped) campsites are normally recognized by a hardened surface with no vegetation, where others have already camped. Use pre-existing fire rings or firepans, and be sure you know the local fire restrictions. TARgeT sHOOTIng Target shooting is permitted in most locations on BLM lands in Colorado. However, some areas are closed to target shooting for safety and resource protection. To ensure the well-being and enjoyment of all visitors on public lands, please follow laws, regulations and guidelines. OFF-HIgHWAy VeHICLes To ensure that all visitors have a chance to enjoy their public lands, visitors must abide by vehicle travel designations. In most BLM areas, OHVs are limited to operating on roads and trails that are identified on travel maps and/or posted as available for motorized use. Please check in with your local field office for more information on the best locations for motorized recreation. CULTURAL sITes Archaeologists study cultural sites to help understand the past. These important sites act as an outdoor classroom for all ages and provide insight into the lives of previous cultures. Collecting artifacts–including arrowheads–from federal public lands or Indian Tribal lands is illegal under federal laws and regulations. Violators may face prosecution and prison sentences of up to one year or more and possible fines. Never touch painted or plastered walls, petroglyphs or pictographs. The oil and dirt from hands can eventually destroy these remnants of past lives. Leave all artifacts exactly where you find them for others to enjoy. | 2 BLM Colorado offers a diversity of recreation activities and destinations. Here are a just few of the highlights: FIsHIng With four gold medal trout waters and three blue ribbon waters, some of Colorado’s best fishing is found on BLM public lands. Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and the Upper Colorado River are just a few areas that offer excellent fishing opportunities. ByWAys Several scenic and historic byways such as the Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway, Dinosaur Diamond Scenic and Histor
U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management Leave What You Find • Prehistoric and historic sites help us understand our past (collection of artifacts is against the law). Camping TM Plan Ahead and Prepare • Know the special concerns that go along with traveling in the back country. Minimize risk by planning a trip that matches your skills and expectations, and prepare for hazards and emergencies. • Please leave rocks, plants, fossils and other natural objects as you find them. N W E S TM • Visit in small groups when possible. • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams. TM • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes. TM • Use a lightweight stove for cooking, and enjoy a candle lantern for light. Respect Wildlife • Never feed wild animals. • Good campsites are found, not made. Dispose of Waste Properly • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter (including toilet paper and hygiene products). Minimize Campfire Impacts • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses, or snow. on Public Lands • Enjoy rock art by viewing it, not touching it. • Control pets at all times. • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them. TM • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6-8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished. TM • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter. Be Considerate of Other Visitors • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. TM BLM/CO/GI-18/0015 BLM Colorado State Office 2850 Youngfield Street Lakewood, CO 80215 (303) 239-3600 BLM Photo For more information, please contact: CAMPING ON BLM PUBLIC LANDS IN COLORADO DEVELOPED AND UNDEVELOPED CAMPSITES There are more than 8 million acres of public land in Colorado, most of which is available for camping. This brochure is published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to help you enjoy camping on public lands, while preserving the quality of those lands for future generations. Building your camping adventure around your vehicle is one popular way to enjoy your public lands. Developed campgrounds have a variety of facilities available: a toilet, picnic tables, a fire ring, potable water, tent pads, and garbage cans. These sites may require a daily fee, which helps fund the care and maintenance of the site. You can also find developed campgrounds in nearby communities or on lands managed by other agencies. Developed site camping carries responsibilities for being a good neighbor to your fellow campers, and leaving a clean campsite for the next visitors. Although the BLM builds and manages campgrounds on the public lands in some areas, not all recreation attractions have developed recreation sites nearby. Undeveloped sites are normally recognized by a hardened © Jerry Sintz There are several options for staying overnight on public lands managed by the BLM in Colorado. You can camp within a vehicle, trailer, tent, or under the stars. You can enjoy a developed campground or any number of dispersed (undeveloped) sites, backpack or camp on a remote trail. Depending on where you go, available facilities and services vary widely. Please think about the following considerations as you decide what best fits your particular recreation outing. surface with no vegetation where others have already camped. Please use pre-existing campfire rings, and make sure you know fire restrictions that may be in place in your area. Camping at an undeveloped site brings the additional responsibility of packing out what you pack in, and properly disposing of human waste. Please observe the Leave No Trace Skills and Ethics guidelines outlined on the back of this brochure. BLM Photo by Bob Wick BLM Photo CAMPING Whether you take a short hike, an extended backpack trip, or mountain bike into the backcountry, more remote camping requires a greater level of preparation, additional gear and equipment, and more knowledge about how to care for yourself and the environment. Backcountry camping also carries an obligation to leave areas looking as you found them or even better for the next visitor to enjoy.

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